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C.H. Roberts, 5 February 1987

Pagans and Christians 
by Robin LaneFox.
Viking, 799 pp., £17.95, October 1986, 0 670 80848 2
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... Christians really so different and, if they were, how and why? This is the principal question Robin LaneFox sets out to answer in this compelling and readable book, which is also a major work of historical scholarship. It is a study of differing and competing religions in the second and third centuries AD: not so ...

Where’s the Gravy?

Barbara Graziosi: Homeric Travel, 27 August 2009

Travelling Heroes: Greeks and Their Myths in the Epic Age of Homer 
by Robin LaneFox.
Penguin, 528 pp., £10.99, September 2009, 978 0 14 024499 1
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... those by his near contemporary Hesiod) and the archaeology of early Greece. In Travelling Heroes Robin LaneFox tries to bring together texts and objects to shed light on the real-life travellers who, he believes, shaped the worldview represented in early Greek epic. He starts with Hera’s flight and asks where the ...

When was Hippocrates?

James Romm, 22 April 2021

The Invention of Medicine 
by Robin LaneFox.
Allen Lane, 403 pp., £25, September 2020, 978 0 241 27705 8
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... the shadowy figure who was later largely credited with those foundations, or perhaps, as Robin LaneFox suggests in The Invention of Medicine, may even have been Hippocrates himself, just as the Greeks suspected. Doctors today speak not only of a Hippocratic oath but a Hippocratic face (distorted by the ...

Alexander the Greatest

Mary Renault, 4 June 1981

The Search for Alexander 
by Robin LaneFox.
Allen Lane, 439 pp., £12.95, February 1981, 0 7139 1395 9
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Alexander the Great 
by N.G.L. Hammond.
Chatto, 358 pp., £14.95, April 1981, 0 7011 2565 9
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... biographies to appear in the same season, both by authors who have personally surveyed his route. Robin LaneFox has covered the whole itinerary, in this surpassing the redoubtable Sir Aurel Stein, who had to wait till he was in his eighties for permission to enter Afghanistan, and, setting out undaunted, died amid the ...

Good Jar, Bad Jar

Ange Mlinko: Whose ‘Iliad’?, 2 November 2023

The Iliad 
by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson.
Norton, 761 pp., £30, September 2023, 978 1 324 00180 5
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Homer and His Iliad 
by Robin LaneFox.
Allen Lane, 442 pp., £30, July 2023, 978 0 241 52451 0
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... she struggled to find adequate translations for such ‘semiarchaic’ words as honour and renown. Robin LaneFox thinks that Simone Weil’s conception of elemental ‘Force’, which turns humans into objects, is too reductive to apply to Homer’s heroes, but on rereading Weil’s essay on the Iliad I shared her ...

Who was in Tomb II?

James Romm: Macedon, 6 October 2011

Heracles to Alexander the Great: Treasures from the Royal Capital of Macedon, a Hellenic Kingdom in the Age of Democracy 
by Angeliki Kottaridi et al.
Ashmolean, 264 pp., £25, April 2011, 978 1 85444 254 3
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A Companion to Ancient Macedonia 
edited by Joseph Roisman and Ian Worthington.
Wiley-Blackwell, 668 pp., £110, November 2010, 978 1 4051 7936 2
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Brill’s Companion to Ancient Macedon: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Macedon, 650 BC–300 AD 
edited by Robin Lane Fox.
Brill, 642 pp., €184, June 2011, 978 90 04 20650 2
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... of them also wrote for the Ashmolean catalogue, as did the editor of the Brill’s Companion, Robin LaneFox. Lane Fox opens the volume with a thorough and highly combative defence of the attribution of Tomb II to Philip II. Combativeness is perhaps a natural trait in a ...

Being Greek

Henry Day: Up Country with Xenophon, 2 November 2006

The Long March: Xenophon and the Ten Thousand 
by Robin LaneFox.
Yale, 351 pp., £25, September 2004, 0 300 10403 0
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The Expedition of Cyrus 
by Xenophon, translated by Robin Waterfield.
Oxford, 231 pp., £8.99, September 2005, 0 19 282430 9
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Xenophon’s Retreat: Greece, Persia and the End of the Golden Age 
by Robin Waterfield.
Faber, 248 pp., £17.99, November 2006, 0 571 22383 4
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The Sea! The Sea! The Shout of the Ten Thousand in the Modern Imagination 
by Tim Rood.
Duckworth, 272 pp., £12.99, August 2006, 0 7156 3571 9
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... the ‘clearness of style and modesty of temper’ he found in the Anabasis, a judgment that Robin Waterfield’s new translation doesn’t traduce. Xenophon’s relatively simple sentences, preference for the vivid present tense, and use of third-person narration inevitably invite comparison with that other great classical war reporter, Julius ...


Mary Beard: Set in Tunisia, 14 December 2006

... that its details have been rigorously checked by scholars of the most impeccable credentials. Robin LaneFox famously advised on the Macedonian phalanx for Alexander, in exchange – it has been reported – for a bit-part in the cavalry charge. Even the ghastly Troy (which was about a mythical war in any case) set ...

Re-reading the Bible

Stephanie West, 12 March 1992

The Unauthorised Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible 
by Robin LaneFox.
Viking, 478 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 670 82412 7
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... title may suggest a Qumranic fantastication, or something like Robert Graves’s King Jesus, but Lane Fox’s purpose, though ambitious, is sober enough. He offers an ancient historian’s view of the Bible. This is ‘a book about evidence and historical truth, not about faith. It is unauthorised because it addresses questions which the Bible itself ...

According to A.N. Wilson

Patricia Beer, 3 December 1992

by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 269 pp., £15, September 1992, 1 85619 114 1
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... Wilson speaks of Jesus in the same breath and tone as he speaks of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin Hood, he is making a serious point about the traditional techniques of rhetoric as used by St Luke, who, in this instance, drops historical names such as Caesar, Herod and Quirinius into his narrative to make his main character sound more authentic; and ...

Unruly Sweet Peas

Alison Light: Working-Class Gardens, 18 December 2014

The Gardens of the British Working Class 
by Margaret Willes.
Yale, 413 pp., £25, March 2014, 978 0 300 18784 7
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... banished class condescension or made the neighbours less touchy. Gardening experts tut-tut at what Robin LaneFox calls ‘exterior decorating’, and Jane Brown ‘a horticultural hell of instant plants’, just as their predecessors disparaged the ‘pastrywork’ of bedding out or frowned at ...

In a Garden in Milan

Adam Phillips: Augustine’s Confessions, 25 October 2018

Confessions: A New Translation 
by Augustine, translated by Peter Constantine.
Liveright, 329 pp., £22.99, February 2018, 978 0 87140 714 6
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... Paul) experienced; and that Confessions is, if anything, a series of conversion-like experiences (Robin LaneFox called his recent book Augustine: Conversions and Confessions to suggest a sequence or an accumulation of experiences rather than a blinding revelation). And there is also a consensus among modern ...

Wasp-Waisted Minoans

Miranda Carter: Mary Renault’s Heroes, 13 April 2023

‘The King Must Die’ and ‘The Bull from the Sea’ 
by Mary Renault.
Everyman, 632 pp., £16.99, October 2022, 978 1 84159 409 5
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... history obsessives, novelists (Hilary Mantel, Sarah Waters, Madeline Miller), classicists (Robin LaneFox, Bettany Hughes), historians (Tom Holland), who salute her muscular resurrections of the classical world, and gay men who see her as a pioneer in her writing about homosexual relationships. Along with ...

The Game of Death

A.D. Nuttall, 11 June 1992

... It is of course a picture of the rise of Christianity which has taken quite a beating recently. Robin LaneFox has shown that early Christianity was really a very middle-class affair. Nietzsche dedicated Human All Too Human – admittedly in one of his spasmodic reactions against Schopenhauer – to Voltaire, saint ...

Madame, vous fatiguez les singes

E.S. Turner: The Tower Menagerie, 24 July 2003

The Tower Menagerie: Being the Amazing True Story of the Royal Collection of Wild and Ferocious Beasts 
by Daniel Hahn.
Simon and Schuster, 260 pp., £15.99, March 2003, 0 7432 2081 1
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... a class issue. Bull-baiting was the poor man’s sport and was being put down by those who upheld fox-hunting. Its defenders claimed that it was character forming, producing robust subjects in the pattern of John Bull. (If present-day fox-hunters defy a ban on their sport, will New Labour cite this precedent and send in the ...

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